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Presentation on theme: "T HE R OLE OF A LTERNATIVE B REAK E XPERIENCES IN C OLLEGE S TUDENT I NTEGRATION OF L EARNING Fieldwork conducted at Christopher Newport University by."— Presentation transcript:

1 T HE R OLE OF A LTERNATIVE B REAK E XPERIENCES IN C OLLEGE S TUDENT I NTEGRATION OF L EARNING Fieldwork conducted at Christopher Newport University by Julianna Wait

2 B ACKGROUND : A LTERNATIVE B REAK Alternative break experiences focus on: Enhancing what is already known through: Stressing theory learned in the classroom Applying theory to field experiences Assisting learners with learning new skills Helping students pursue what they know they don't know (McElhaney, 1998, p. 30)

3 B ACKGROUND : A LTERNATIVE S PRING B REAK Strong emphasis on the importance of “giving students a broad foundation of knowledge, skills that can be used across a range of contexts, and opportunities to see the connections among different domains of learning” (King, Brown, Lindsay, & VanHecke, 2007, p. 3) Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips can support this goal

4 B ACKGROUND : ASB Commonly held theory: students are provided with ample opportunity to integrate learning through participation in ASB experiences Why? – ASB is outside of the classroom – ASB typically has a guided reflection component – ASB often brings students from varying disciplines together to work towards completion of a common goal

5 B ACKGROUND : CNU ASB CNU REACH Out What does “REACH” in REACH Out stand for? R aising E ducational A wareness through C ompassion and H umanity

6 B ACKGROUND : CNU ASB Purpose of the CNU REACH Out program is to provide an “alternative break program that focuses on the education of issue specific engagement through direct service…[where] students will share knowledge and reflect about social problems, all the while enhancing their personal growth,” (REACH Out Facebook Page, 2011)

7 B ACKGROUND : CNU ASB Nine students and two CNU staff members traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for spring break 2011 Worked with Catholic Charities of Baltimore

8 B ACKGROUND : CNU ASB Activities that the students participated in consisted of: – making, serving, and eating meals with individuals at two centers designed for individuals who are transitioning from poverty to stability making, serving, and eating meals with individuals at two centers designed for individuals who are transitioning from poverty to stability – painting rooms in the centers painting rooms in the centers – organizing food storage spaces organizing food storage spaces – spending time with women who had once been sexually harassed or abused – teaching English to immigrants

9 P URPOSE OF R ESEARCH To assess whether or not integration of learning occurred during or as a result of the REACH Out alternative spring break trip Through the analysis of: REACH Out Application REACH Out Facebook REACH Out Blog Observation of cohort’s final reflection Personal conversations following the reflection

10 T HEORIES OF L EARNING Seven out of nine students experienced integration of learning Kolb’s Experiential Learning Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Connections

11 E XPERIENTIAL L EARNING Kolb believes that “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience…[and] to understand learning, we must understand the nature of knowledge, and vice versa,” (1984, p. 38)

12 E XPERIENTIAL L EARNING The four stages in Kolb’s theory are: 1. Concrete experience: experience in which learning occurred 2. Reflective observation: individual consciously reflects on the experience 3. Abstract conceptualization: learner attempts to conceptualize a model of what was observed during reflection 4. Active experimentation: learner attempts to plan ways in which the theory observed can be tested in a future experience (Kolb, 1984)

13 E XPERIENTIAL L EARNING : V ISUAL Concrete Experiences Reflective Observation Abstract Conceptualization Active Experimentation Feeling Watching Thinking Doing

14 E XPERIENTIAL L EARNING E XAMPLE Student discussing experience with reflection (stage one) “I was anti-reflection at first. I didn’t know what to say or what to think. I mean I could tell you what we did but I didn’t know what you all wanted me to really say and it was frustrating. I thought reflecting was dumb and a waste of my time…”

15 E XPERIENTIAL L EARNING E XAMPLE “I realized last Wednesday [half-way point of the trip] that the reflections were useful ya know? Like the structure of talking it all through and rethinking what I learned and reconsidering what people said and stuff and hearing what you all had to say really gave me more insight.” Student has progressed from stage one to stage two of the Kolb theory Experience reflection; reflect on reflection

16 E XPERIENTIAL L EARNING E XAMPLE Purpose of guided-reflection Student progressed to stage three of the Kolb theory Student was actively seeking a model to conceptualize what he learned from his experience with reflection and his reflections on reflecting

17 E XPERIENTIAL L EARNING E XAMPLE “I guess I learned that reflection ain’t all that horrible ya know? Like it can really be useful. I have already thought of how we can use it in my fraternity and with my volunteering with Diversity Initiatives. I want others to learn what I did [about reflection]. Reflection gave me like a box to put around my experience…and sometimes you need a box. You can’t just be outside of the box all the time. I am thankful that she made us do reflections.”

18 K EEP THIS IN MIND … Students are regularly presented with opportunities for integration of learning through “outside-the-classroom activity (off as well as on campus) that provide students with certain types of experiences that facilitate the integrative process, experiences through which they are confronted with new perspectives and are challenged to integrate insights from divergent perspectives,” (Newell, 2010, p. 8).

19 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING Frame of reference associations, concepts, values, feelings, conditioned responses structures of assumptions through which we understand our experiences Frames of reference selectively shape and delimit expectations, perceptions, cognition, and feelings (Mezirow, 1997, p. 5)

20 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING The process of transformative learning involves transforming frames of reference through: Critical reflection of assumptions Validating contested beliefs through discourse Taking action on one’s reflective insight Critically assessing frames of reference (Mezirow, 1997, p. 11)

21 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING Mezirow states that, “new information is only a resource in the adult learning process. To become meaningful, learning requires that new information be incorporated by the learner into an already well-developed symbolic frame of reference, an active process involving thought, feelings, and disposition. The learner may also have to be helped to transform his or her frame of reference to fully understand the experience,” (1997, p. 10)

22 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING Individuals must be made aware of the assumptions that they hold and the way in which newly acquired information fits or does not fit into the assumptions

23 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING E XAMPLE Many students mentioned that the individuals that they met and served were not who they pictured they would be “I thought they’d all look like crack addicts and stuff…not like us. I mean how many of those people did we see that looked like you or me a few years from now. I just kept thinking these people cannot really be the people we’re supposed to be helping.”

24 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING E XAMPLE Student reflection: “I realized again last week that we don’t know who each other really is. You know? It’s important to realize that you never know who someone is or where they come from. I think that’s an important lesson to learn and pass on to others…”

25 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING E XAMPLE Student reflection continued: “I mean with Father (not sure name), he told us about his background…like he did drugs and stuff and then God like smacked him and so he’s now working to help others learn what he has from God and ya know I never expected a Priest to have a background like his…”

26 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING E XAMPLE Students were made aware of their frame of reference through their interactions with the individuals they were serving They realized that although some individuals may have had a drug or alcohol addiction, there were many more who lost their jobs, lost their family members, became depressed, or had an unpleasant experience disrupt their life

27 T RANSFORMATIVE L EARNING E XAMPLE “We’re all one wrong decision away from being in their shoes.” Through their experiences, the students transformed their frame of reference to accommodate the new information that they acquired.

28 B LOG E XAMPLES "It Could be Oatmeal” Guided Reflection

29 O THER E XAMPLES Lack of integration of learning: “I haven’t really talked about it with anyone because I’ve been so busy. I know from my Spain trip that it’s hard to tell people your story and stuff. I mean I’m not like having withdrawals because I haven’t had time to but as soon as I have time which is never I might. It was a pretty awesome experience like I’ve been put in similar situations so I knew what to expect.”

30 O THER E XAMPLES Which then turned into: “But from it I like found my job…with the military. They have a Peace Corps thing called civil affairs and I didn’t realize what the job entailed but apparently it’s like what we did last week…and what I did in Spain and on church trips growing up and stuff. I like doing that…” Integration of learning DID occur (connection)!

31 O THER E XAMPLES Connection to faith “And then like I am pretty religious and when I like, that last day we saw those people singing was really touching. Like even (though) those people don’t really have anything they have like a greater faith in God than I do and I have all this stuff and it was like I realized that I need to step it up and stuff like read my bible and stuff. And be thankful for what I have and stuff. And so now I’m going to try to be more God focused and it like made me really thankful for everything and like…I need to work harder.”

32 O THER E XAMPLES Small piece of big picture

33 C ONCLUSION Integration of learning may not have consisted of connecting concepts and ideas learned in class to what they were experiencing while serving, but that does not mean that integration of learning was not actually occurring

34 C ONCLUSION These students were integrating learning across multiple contexts such as: Fraternities/sororities Clubs/organizations Faith-based groups/concepts Day-to-day activities Interactions around campus Career/life goals

35 C ONCLUSION Alternative spring break trips provide ample opportunity for students to integrate learning across many different context beyond the classroom

36 R EFERENCES REACH Out Facebook. (March 2010). Retrieved from: King, P. M., Kendall Brown, M., Lindsay, N. K., & VanHecke, J. R. (2007). Liberal arts student learning outcomes: An integrated perspective. About Campus, 12 (4), 2-9. Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. McElhaney, K.A. (1998). Student outcomes of community service learning: A comparative analysis of curriculum-based and non-curriculum-based alternative spring break programs. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations. (AAT 9840602) Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education 74, pp. 5-12. Newell, W. H. (2010). Educating for a complex world: Integrative learning and interdisciplinary studies. Liberal Education, 96 (4), 6-11

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